Moringa is a fast growing multipurpose perennial tree that grows in tropical and subtropical India and Africa. Moringa is a used for preventing and treating disease, solving malnutrition problem and cleaning of water. It is a tree with immense potential. In South India it is used extensively in kitchen in cooking. The pods are added to Sambhar and leaves are eaten as vegetable. Now around the globe various nations are promoting planting of this medicinal and nutritional tree. This tree in non-toxic and all the parts viz. leaves, flowers, pods are edible. Moringa leaves are just like multivitamin pills. They are good source of various essential vitamins and minerals. The leaves are also used to flavour ghee and added to pickles. The seeds are used for purifying water. They are edible and an oil extracted from them, known as Ben/Behen oil is used for lubrication, soap preparation and as fuel for lamps.
Moringa is a fast growing tree and can reach a height of 4-5 m within one year. The leaves, pods and flowers are highly nutritious. The leaves are particularly rich in Vitamin C and A. The leaves are also used as fodder for livestock. The seeds are used for purifying water.
Moringa tree description
The botanical name of Moringa is Moringa oleifera Lam. and it belong to family Moringaceae. Family Moringaceae is a single genus family and have 14 known species, of which Moringa oleifera Lam. (Syn. M. pterygospernta Gaertn.) is the most valuable and extensively used tree. The other common names of Moringa tree are drumstick, horse radish tree, Benoil tree, Sahijan, Shigru etc.
Description: Perennial small or medium sized tree of height 8-10 m;Stem woody and brittle;Leaves small and tripinnate;Flowers white or creamy white, produced in large, spreading panicles with linear bracts;
Fruits/pods green (fresh) and brown (mature) in colour, pendulous 30 to 120 cm length, triangular with several three winged seeds.
Flowering: twice a year viz. August to November and December to May, the latter resulting in fruit set.
How to grow Moringa
Propagation: Moringa tree can be grown by two ways, by sowing its mature seeds from pods and by cuttings. The germination rate and quality of tree is good for fresh seeds which are up to one year old. Older seeds have reduced germination rates. Moringa seeds has no dormancy period. For better germination the seeds should be soaked in water for one day. This softens the seed coat and hastens the germination. The seeds can be sown in polybags or directly on ground. Generally 2 seeds are sown. The germination time is seven to nine days. The plants that are grown in polybags should be transplanted after a month. Once the plant reaches height of 2.5 feet the growing tip should be cut to encourage branching.
Fully mature black seeds give good result. The seeds should be sown in May-June and September-November.
Through cutting: Moringa easily propagates through cuttings. The good thick branch is selected and cut with sharp knife. This is firmly placed in moist soil. Once the roots grow new leaves appear on branch. It is important to keep the soil moist for rooting.
Pruning: Moringa needs regular annular pruning. Pruning makes the plant manageable and increases the branches and leaves.
Although Moringa is a tree but you can also grow it in container for getting its edible nutritious green leaves. Either sow the seeds or use a cutting. In tropical and subtropical areas it grows easily. But in cool and frosting areas it is difficult to grow. In pots, pruning every month helps to get more leaves. The primary growing tip should be cut once the plant reaches height of two-three feet. Similarly the side branches needs to be clipped for dense plant with more leaves. Moringa is an evergreen tree that gives good health. Grow it and reap its benefits.
Moringa as Plant Growth-Stimulant
Moringa tree is a gift to mankind. It is tree with innumerable uses. Many studies have been done and many are undergoing to know it’s every possible use. One such use which is less commonly known is its use a growth stimulant or enhancer for other plants. Stimulant are those substance that are applied externally to promote growth of plant. They are neither fertilisers nor pesticides. Spray of such stimulant improves plant growth and development. They contributes this through influencing plant’s respiration, photosynthesis, nucleic acid synthesis and nutrient absorption. Moringa contain natural plant growth stimulant and is successfully used in wheat, corn, coffee, tomato, peas for improving yield.
Why Moringa improves growth
Moringa leaves are rich in cytokinin, ascorbates, phenolics, other antioxidants along with macro- micro nutrients that contribute to enhance plant growth. Cytokinins are important plant hormone. They promotes cell division and expansion, increases leaf size that increases photosynthesis and more chlorophyll production. Cytokinins also promote nutrient translocation within plants which is responsible for increased plant metabolism.
Moringa leaves external spray on wheat increases total yield and in tomatoes it helped by increasing number of flowers, more number of fruits as well as heaviest fruits. Leaves spray gave longer life-span, heavier roots, stems, leaves, produce more fruit and larger fruits. The crop production can be increased by 20-35% from moringa use. Moringa leaves also improves germination and shoot growth.
How to use Moringa leaves as growth enhancer
This method of making Moringa leaves growth enhancer is taken from various scientific studies. The process requires fresh leaves of Moringa and water.
The first step is to collect fresh Moringa leaves. These leaves are ground and a paste is prepared. About four cups of fresh young Moringa leaves are ground with one cup of water. This paste or leaves pulp is put in a cloth and squeezed to get the juice. This juice is diluted with water. One cup juice is mixed with seven litres water. This juice-water mix is Growth stimulant. Spray this on garden plants in morning or evening. This can be sprayed several times during the growing season from about two weeks after germination.